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SLU Urban Futures theme: Urban Labs

Published: 11 October 2018

SLU Urban Futures develops four thematic strands within the platform. One of these themes focuses on 'Urban Labs' and is led by Nina Vogel. The mission is to build research networks around each theme, including SLU and other researchers, teachers and practitioners, to inspire and to create larger ‘communities of practice’.

What are Urban Labs?

There are different types of so-called real-world-labs (RWL). All have in common that processes of developing, designing, testing, learning happen in real-time and co-creation in direct (inter)connection to the life-context. New governance arrangements and co-production of knowledge serve as breading grounds for novel solution approaches and coping strategies.  

Why Urban Labs?

Today’s urbanization processes reflects rapid changes and challenges that provoke novel and flexible responses. One form of response by city authorities, developers, and communities is to engage in different forms of explorative practices - urban laboratories - such as living labs, design labs, maker spaces, urban experiments, etc. to search alternatives, identify new values and cope with (sudden) shifts.

Potentials & challenges with Urban Labs?

Urban labs can offer insights to alterations of regular planning and development as they can operate with novel actor constellations, different resources and combination of expertise (inter- and transdisciplinary). As such they offer spaces for learning and establishment of new capacities and knowledge. One prevailing challenge, however, is the long-term impact on e.g. policy renewal and to go beyond the experiment. Critical engagement with the evolution of urban labs will offer insights in pitfalls and untapped opportunities for transformation.

'SLU Lab Stories'

SLU Lab Stories is a series of teasers in form of short-films that introduce the SLU based research, projects and infrastructures that engage with laboratories. Such as: Green Innovation Park, Ultuna; Rehab Garden, Alnarp; Green-blue infrastructure Vinnova project in Malmö; NärKomm research project.

See the first SLU Urban Lab, with Green Innovation Park in Uppsala, here:


Nina VogelCoordinator of SLU’s Urban Futures Platform and Researcher at SLU affiliated to the Governance and Management theme group at the Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management, SLU Alnarp
Phone: +46 727 044 064

SLU Urban Futures

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